Farmers urged to take precautions on Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is transmitted to people by infected ticks
Lyme Disease is transmitted to people by infected ticks
The bacteria which causes Lyme disease is called Borrelia and is passed to humans from infected ticks.

FarmIreland Team

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre is advising farmers, in particular, to take precautions in order to avoid contracting this disease which is spread by tick bites.

"Although the great majority of cases of Lyme disease are very mild (in fact, some people may not even know they have been infected) resulting in a skin rash; in a small number of cases however, the infection can be more severe, leading to serious nervous system, heart and joint disease," says specialist in Public Health Medicine, Dr Paul McKeown.

Only a minority of ticks carry infection. If a tick is removed within the first few hours, the risk of infection is low. The entire tick, including any mouthparts which might break off, should be removed with a tweezers by gripping it close to the skin.

"Cases of a more severe form of Lyme disease - neuroborreliosis - have to be reported to the HPSC by doctors and laboratories in Ireland. There are approximately 10-20 cases of neuroborreliosis notified in Ireland each year. However, as some people will not be aware that they are infected or will not seek medical help when unwell, the true incidence of Lyme disease is not known. It is likely there are at least 100-200 cases of the milder forms of Lyme disease in Ireland annually," added Dr McKeown. Beekeepers issue infection warning

Beekeepers across the country are being advised to remain vigilant after an outbreak of American Foulbrood (AFB) was identified in East Cork last week.

AFB is an infectious, notifiable disease of honey bee larvae and pupae. Infected bee colonies slowly become weak and die.

Lab testing is necessary for definitive diagnosis, but a good field test is to touch a dead larva with a toothpick or twig. It will be sticky and "ropey". Foulbrood also has a characteristic odour, and experienced beekeepers can often detect the disease upon opening a hive.

"It is highly contagious and sadly there is no cure," commented Eleanor Attridge, Bee Health Officer with the Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Associations.

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"Now that the weather is improving slightly beekeepers are starting to open hives." Two hives in Cork were found to be infected. "Bees in an infected hive will die but if others invade the hive before it is cleaned out and disinfected, they will spread it further," she added.

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